MANILA, Philippines – Why only now?
The prosecution panel raised this question as it asked the Senate to deny Chief Justice Renato Corona’s motion for a preliminary hearing in his impeachment trial. In its comment to the motion, prosecutors said Corona’s request was apparently just an “afterthought.”
The prosecutors submitted to the Senate their 15-page comment to the motion on Monday, January 9, 2012. They said that Corona declared in a speech that he was ready to face trial, and he already answered the allegations against him. The comment was signed by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. on behalf of prosecutors from the House of Representatives, and lawyer Mario Bautista for the private prosecutors.
“Indeed, his motion for preliminary hearing seems to be a mere afterthought, filed three days after his answer was filed. The motion appears to be intended to secure a preliminary ruling from the Senate so that he can later bring it up to the Supreme Court for review and injunctive relief,” wrote the prosecutors.
Corona’s camp asked the Senate for a preliminary hearing, saying the impeachment complaint was defective and should be dismissed. Corona’s lawyers argued that it was impossible for all 188 signatories to have read, understood and evaluated the complaint.
Yet prosecutors insisted that the impeachment complaint is not defective. They criticized Corona’s motion as a delaying tactic. The prosecutors said the complaint contained a verification under oath executed by the 188 lawmakers.
Citing the Senate rules of impeachment, the prosecutors said that rules of court only apply to questions of evidence during the trial. “Thus, even assuming (without admitting) that the verification of the impeachment complaint falls short of the requirements of the rules of court, it would not render the verification fatally defective for purposes of the impeachment proceedings.”
Senators decide on Monday
The Senate is expected to decide on Corona’s motion when it receives the prosecution and defense teams next Monday, January 16.
“If they grant the motion … they will allow the defense to present evidence on the alleged defects of the complaint,” said impeachment court spokesperson and lawyer Valentina Cruz.
Cruz said if the Senate denies Corona’s motion, the trial will begin with the prosecution first to present its evidence. – Rappler.com